Well, 27 June is the day that the United Nations recognizes the importance of small business (Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to be precise, but that’s quite a mouthful!) and their contribution to sustainable development.
Why are these business so important?
Smaller businesses are the backbone of most economies.They are a major driver of poverty alleviation and development.They promote innovation, creativity and decent work for all.These smaller businesses tend to employ a larger share of the vulnerable sectors of the workforce, such as women, youth and people from poorer households.
The Rigbys are one family that make up this vital social and economic force.They run their small business from their garage in a small coastal town where the beaches are divine, but local work hard to come by.
Kristy, together with her husband John, own and run Boutique Brands, which is the exclusive distributor for Babiators in Australia, among other things.
“We love empowering parents to give their kids a healthy, happy childhood. Babiators sunglasses are all about giving parents great tools to help protect little eyes from our harsh Aussie sun. It's a product we are really happy to throw our best efforts behind.”
The Rigby’s workforce is largely drawn from the vulnerable sectors of society, as defined by the UN.The majority of these employees are also mums, who face their own particular challenges in finding flexible local work.
As Kristy says, “We want to give other local families the opportunity to work locally.We have considered outsourcing different stuff at different stages, but we prefer to work with people.”
However, in such a tight-knit community, where your employees live so close to you that they walk or cycle to work, there can be challenges in mixing your business and personal lives.
When asked about these challenges, Kristy explains, “People are more important to us than what they can do for us. We run our business from the perspective that if you respect and support people then you get amazing outcomes all round.”
The Rigby’s business not only supports their community through employment.Recently, Boutique Brands has diversified in a way that allows them to support and enrich the small business community.
Kristy’s lightbulb moment came while talking to other mums who were struggling to make their small businesses thrive.
“I was relating to a lot of other mums in business who were in that same position that I had been previously.”
It boiled down to this.
They had designed these incredible products that solved some tricky parenting challenges, but didn’t have enough time, while juggling small children, laundry and whatever else, to really make their businesses work.
“We realised that we had a lot of skills and knowledge on board that could really help to support these other mums in business.”
From this, Mum’s Tool Box was formed, an online platform that gathers practical, innovative products designed for parents, by parents.
In a refreshing approach to doing business, which is co-operative rather than competitive, Kristy and John use their hard-earned lessons from their past 10 years in business to give other small businesses a boost into the future.
“We… love supporting other small businesses, other families who have thrown their efforts and savings into creating a product or service.”
“Yes, we work a lot of hours building and maintaining the business, but we love the flexibility of running our own business.
After trying a number of different things over the years, the Rigby's “have definitely found the one that suits our skills, one that we can be passionate about and enjoy.”